Quite by accident the second edition of “Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling,” by Edgar H. Schein and Peter A. Schein appeared in my mail the other day. Reviewing some older notes, I saw the recommendation. When this book arrived, I discovered I had the first edition on my bookshelf. The second edition was worth the refresher.
Do you know any long-time elementary school teachers? Ever listen to them? Do their questions sound often like a prosecuting attorney going after a criminal suspect?
Do we catch ourselves asking questions to test other people? Or questions where we wish to discover if they are for us or against us? Questions meant to trap us—like often were posed to Jesus in the Christian Bible?
The gentle art of asking questions instead of telling people reveals true curiosity. We want to know what someone else is thinking—really.
The gentle art draws people in rather than establishing a barrier between people. Its foundation includes trust, sincerity, mindfulness. I would add intention.
So often we ask, but then we fail to listen to the answer. Listening, that is, that involves our complete attention.
I wrote about this book five years ago. It’s one of those books that requires a reread periodically. It’s brief. Readable. New insights will pop out each reading.